December 7, 2007
EUMETSAT 63rd Council meets in Darmstadt, Germany
EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, held its 63rd Council meeting in Darmstadt, Germany, on 6-7 December.
The meeting was chaired by Declan Murphy, Director of the National Meteorological Institute, Met Eireann.
During this meeting, the EUMETSAT Council gave the go-ahead for the necessary activities under the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) Preparatory Programme to start in January 2008. Director-General of EUMETSAT, Dr. Lars Prahm welcomed the “extremely important decision,” adding: “MTG will guarantee continuity of service to European citizens over the next 20 years.”
MTG is the third generation of EUMETSAT’s Meteosat geostationary meteorological satellites. The first MTG launch is scheduled for 2015.
The Council also discussed the coordination of EUMETCast, EUMETSAT’s broadcast system for environmental data and products to National Weather Services of Member and Cooperating States and a growing network of other users. The Council approved a six-year contract for the EUMETCast Europe Service for 2009-2014. It also extended the EUMETCast South America service for another two years after the initial phase of service is completed at the end of 2008.
The Council approved cooperation with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the use of the McMurdo station in Antarctica to receive data from Metop-A, Europe’s first operational polar-orbiting meteorological satellite. “This will allow Metop-A data to be delivered significantly faster to users,” Dr. Prahm said.
The Council also approved the memorandum of understanding initialled by EUMETSAT and Canada in St Hubert, Quebec, on 18 October 2007 to advance cooperation in weather, climate and environmental monitoring activities. The approval will allow the agreement to come into effect in 2008.
The Council is the governing body of EUMETSAT, consisting of delegations from its 20 Member States, and decides on the overall direction of the organisation. Usually meeting twice a year, the Council discusses EUMETSAT satellite programmes, operations, international activities, and financial questions.
Depending on their type and importance, decisions are made by unanimous vote, by a two-thirds majority or by a simple majority, whereby every Member State has one vote.
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 20 European Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and 10 Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the Czech Republic).
EUMETSAT is operating the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8 and -9 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-6 and -7 over the Indian Ocean.
Metop-A, the first European polar-orbiting satellite, was launched in October 2006 and has been delivering operational data since 15 May 2007.
The data, products and services from EUMETSAT’s satellites make a significant contribution to weather forecasting and to the monitoring of the global climate.